Magic Users Club Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Magic User's Club

Magic Users Club Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     January 28, 2002
Release Date: January 08, 2002


Magic Users Club Vol. #5
© Media Blasters


What They Say
The Magic User's Club is always looking for new ways to train in the art of magic, but every now and then their spells don't work out as planned. The backfired spells take their toll on school life, while Takeo himself seems to be skipping club meetings to go see Akane!

When Sae follows him one day, she sees the couple staring blissfully into each other's eyes. Later, Takeo drifts up to Sae's window on a broom, cloaked in a dashing cape. Has the Magic Club president finally become a real ladies man?

The Review!
More "day in the life" episodes continue here as we have three more episodes dealing with the members of the club in search of a storyline.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the show we got a solid presentation across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is primarily through the center channel, though there did seem to be a couple of nice moments of directionality. Music and sound effects made good use of the left/right channels and the overall presentation is on par for what you'd expect with a TV series.

Video:
As with the last volume, the TV series continues to boast some great looking production values and an absolute lack of cross coloration. The clarity in general looks fantastic and my usual benchmark of checking sky backgrounds showed a lot of very solid looking images. Colors look nice and vibrant and blacks remain solid. The shows a bit soft in areas, but this is something that after seeing a good amount of the series seems to be intentional.

Packaging:
The general design of the series continues here with another very detailed border surrounding the lovely ladies of the club and their upperclassmen. It's a very busy cover with a lot moving around in the background but manages to avoid being overly cluttered and an eyesore. The back cover provides a lot of animation pieces along with a brief summary of the show. Episode numbers are included while the spine and front cover both prominently display the volume number, which is a huge plus in my book.

Menus:
The menu layout is pretty similar to the past releases, with a nice bright vibrant image of the girls and the symbols floating around screen along with some music. Selections are all along the right and quickly accessed as there's no transition animations. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty straightforward and works well.

Extras:
The usual array of extras are here, with a textless ending making its debut here. The slates section provides the original version of the few changed in the show and the dub outtakes continue to be among the better we've seen recently, but not quite as good as the previous volume. But there's just something about Sae talking about not feeling all that fresh...

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There's almost something infuriating about this show. With almost lavish looking visuals for a short run TV series, interesting characters that you want to care about and a good setup, it doesn't really go anywhere. The only thing at this time, seven episodes into it, tying it together is the mysterious person that Sae occasionally sees that's causing things to happen once in awhile. Not malicious stuff either.

As such, the three episodes here almost seem to blend together after you finish watching them and think about it. One of the more amusing episodes was the first one, that deals with Aikawa. Of course, I find her to be the best character anyway, so that's probably telling. But possibly affected by this mysterious person observing them, Aikawa finds herself hiccupping a lot. Normally this isn't an issue, but every time she hiccups now, it causes some sort of random piece of magic to occur. Such as soccer balls with wings flying off somewhere, or all kinds of things just appearing in the park.

Since she's an underclassmen, she goes to Takeo for help about it. Takeo being Takeo completely misunderstands everything and thinks Aikawa likes him when she's just trying to get some help. Everyone else sees this going on and thinks the two are suddenly striking it up, leading to some amusing alliances in trying to figure it all out.

One of the stranger episodes so far though, and that's in a series that tends to be a bit off center to begin with, deals a lot with Sae's dreams. She's got a dream version of Takeo that's made up of shadows and red gloves that she's been dealing with, a dream that sometimes feels like reality and sometimes is reality. We get a bit more familiar with her through these segments as well as getting to know her sister just a little bit better as well.

If there's one thing that's disappointing about this release is the back and forth nature of the overlays, or slates as Media Blasters calls them. With this release, the only real slates used are for the episode titles, which doesn't really bother me all that much. The downside is that when Japanese text does pop up on the screen, it's often not translated now. The facial text that Takeo gets is translated, but some of the others aren't. While I'm really really pleased to see less overlays, I wish the translations had been done. But I will take no translation over an overlay for it.

There feels like there's just so much potential for some real storytelling here beyond the simple character studies and interactions. The series is halfway over now, so there's still room to do stuff, but I just hope it doesn't feel forced or rushed - if there even is any story to follow.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,Slates,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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